By Sofia Serrano
Asharq News hosted ‘Ask Bassem Live’ event to drive public awareness about the importance of good health through tackling diverse health-focused issues.
Presented and moderated by Dr. Bassem Youssef, the event at Caesars Palace Bluewater’s Hotel in Dubai on Saturday (16 January), celebrated Vegan January or Veganuary, and hosted vegan professionals and athletes, who shared inspiring stories in live interactive sessions with the audience. Drawing the attendance of many health and well-being enthusiasts, the event also attracted interest from those keen to learn about nutrition and healthy lifestyles.
‘Ask Bassem Live’ was the inaugural initiative of ‘Your Health with Asharq’ campaign, launched by Asharq News during the event, and marks its effort to introduce a healthy lifestyle. Asharq News aims to engage youth with content that encourages an active lifestyle in the community and help them become more physically fit and intellectually agile.
Dr. Bassem Youssef, who presented the ‘Ask Bassem Live’ event, is a leading media personality and surgeon with a reputation for dispelling commonly held misperceptions around health. As part of the campaign, Asharq News will also be introducing several initiatives through its websites and social media accounts to achieve its outcome of improving health awareness.
Speaking on the launch, Dr. Nabeel Al Khatib, general manager of Asharq News, said: “Today’s event sets the tone for similar initiatives in the future from Asharq News. The ongoing campaign is slated to translate a significant impact on Arab society in areas such as health, social well-being and youth empowerment.”
The inaugural session of the Ask Bassem Live event started with a TED Talk styled conversation that Dr. Bassem Youssef headlined, where he recounted for the audience his personal story on how a vegan diet has transformed his life. In a later segment, Dr. Youssef hosted several prominent personalities from the world of vegan nutrition and healthy lifestyle including athletes, and yoga and exercise professionals. Demystifying traditional diets, and leveraging the insights of experts, doctors, athletes, and influencers who changed their lives through adopting a balanced diet.
Dr. Bassem Youssef said: “I spent many years in the media industry and have had various experiences, but what I enjoy the most is being able to directly interact with the audience, because this enables me to communicate, exchange ideas and see live reactions.”
Dr Bassem Youssef told Campaign ME his personal journey with the vegan lifestyle and how it was inspired by a story from a friend that resulted in Youssef becoming vegan seven years ago. The story behind the ‘Ask Bassem Live’ started three years ago with the website PlantB.tv, that was the only bilingual platform in Arabic and English, which gave Youssef the platform to approach Asharq News.
The show included the Vegan Powered Athlete session with different guests including Naomi Mendez, a certified plant-based nutritionist, that said: “A few years back, I embarked on my vegan lifestyle journey, and switched to a plant-based diet. As time went by, I began to experience a perceptible positive impact on my energy levels, general health, the speed of recovery from injuries, and disease prevention in general.”
Sharing his perspective as a vegan athlete, boxer, BJJ practitioner and owner of Mr. Vegan, Mohamed Hindawy said: “For me, this was an exceptional experience. As a vegan for the last seven years, I have often been asked how difficult it is to practice sports that are very physically demanding, such as boxing and Brazilian jiu-jitsu, while only consuming plant-based foods. This was a great opportunity to share my insights and help correct some misconceptions about this liberating lifestyle.”
For her part, Joumana Saber, a yoga instructor, said: “Practicing yoga has helped me to understand the perks of following a vegan diet, and opened my eyes to a whole new world of rejuvenation that channels energy flow to ensure a positive impact. I was immensely happy to share my experiences with everyone.”
Headlining yet another segment, ‘Inspirational Stories’, Ali Majed Al-Jallaf, a UAE police officer, shared his survivor story of combatting cancer. He highlighted how his shift to a vegan diet contributed to reducing the size of cancer cells and fast-tracking his healing process.
Saskia Van Gelder, a 65-year-old master figure bodybuilder, also shared her experience in going vegan, and said: “Through continuing to follow a vegan diet as I pursued my professional bodybuilding career, I managed to overcome different health issues such as diabetes and cancer.”
Other informative sessions included one dedicated to meditation and yoga and a vegetarian cooking demonstration delivered from Little Urth by Nabz&G that provided key learnings on the rich diversity of vegetarian cuisine.
An open discussion with Dr. Bassem Youssef, in which he answered different questions on healthy and mindful eating, also generated considerable audience interest in the six-hour-long inaugural event that concluded with an engaging Zumba class and an interactive sequence of beach exercises.
Regarding his hopes for the future Dr. Youssef said:
“My aim is to take this movement outside the realm of the TV show and to have a true impact on the community and actually have people rethink the way they carry on their habits. On a personal side, I want to continue in America and achieve a success that I’m proud of in a different country with a different language.”
‘Ask Bassem’ is a weekly TV show that airs on Asharq News every Thursday at 5:30 pm, Saudi time.